By: Darwin Campbell
… Something whispers in my ear and says
That you are not alone
For I am here with you
Though you’re far away
I am here to stay
You are not alone
I am here with you
Though we’re far apart
You’re always in my heart
You are not alone
–Excerpt from song, You are Not Alone, 1995, Michael Jackson
FORT WORTH – You are not alone Jacqueline Craig.
That is the strong message from 400-plus local community activists, pastors and other supporters from across racial and ethnic cultures, classes and colors in Fort Worth came together to send a strong message to the city hall and business community. Also, sentiments continue to flow in from across the United States and the Globe sharing and identifying with Craig struggles and her fight to overcome the horrors of injustice, police abuse and brutality.
“I am thankful for all the support from the community,” she said in an interview with African-American News & Issues. “I felt alone in the jail cell after the arrest. Now I am encouraged and have a second wind as people stand up on both sides of me in the fight for justice.”
Since her ordeal, a woman who once had faith in the system, police and the order of community systems to protect her and her family still remains somewhat shocked and shaken over her being thrust into the limelight at the hands of the rude and rough treatment by Fort Worth Police Officer William Martin that fateful day of Dec. 21, 2016.
It has charged the community and sparked the #Black Out Fort Worth Campaign.
The Black Out Fort Worth Campaign is now a protracted effort mirroring the Montgomery Alabama boycott of 1955, that was sparked when Civil Rights icon Rosa Parks was arrested after refusing to give up her seat on a city bus.
Civil rights activist Parks was heard round the world after she refused to surrender her seat to a white passenger on a public bus Montgomery, Alabama.
It spurred on a citywide boycott and helped launch nationwide efforts to end segregation of public facilities.
Even though she was arrested and later released, her sacrifice sparked a boycott that brought the city transportation system to its knees and set off a national movement that ended segregation.
The incident with Craig and her family in Fort Worth is only the tip of the iceberg and points to dozens of other cases of police abusing power on the beat and community leaders intend to turn over every stone and open every curtain for the world to see the real meaning of how the “Fort Worth Way” has made the city a type of modern urban slave plantation.
New York Journalist and blogger Shaun King even held a pivoting impromptu lecture at Como First Baptist Church where he told a passionate story about his interview with Craig and the problems she has faced since the encounter with Martin.
Mr. King’s speech was geared to support Ms. Jacqueline Craig and to endorse the #BlackOutFortWorth Movement created by local leaders to address the systemic institutional injustice within policing, education and economic public policies within the African-American community in Fort Worth, Texas.
“Hers (Craig’s) is a painful story and set the stage for the frustration in this city and the hunger for change in Fort Worth,” King said. “She called the police for help. (a normal thing to do) What happen is wrong not matter how you look at it. This video has affected her life and we must rally around her story and support her as a mother and a brave Black woman.”
Birth of A Movement
On Dec. 21, 2016, Craig called police and was requesting help after she said her neighbor choked her 7-year-old son.
However, instead of responding to her concerns, the officer in the six-minute video seen by many now reveals how the officer then tells Craig, “why don’t you teach your son not to litter?”
She responds, “He can’t prove to me that my son littered, but it doesn’t matter if he did or didn’t, it doesn’t give him the right to put his hands on him.”
The officer then says, “why not?” As the conversation gets more heated, the officer asks Craig why she is yelling, and she says because he “pissed her off.”
He then tells her, “if you keep yelling at me you’re going to piss me off and I’m going to take you to jail.”
Craig’s daughter then walks toward her mother and the officer, appearing to try to calm her mother down, and the officer grabs her from behind. Craig then yells at the officer not to grab her, and the scene turns chaotic.
He then wrestled the black mother and her daughter to the ground and started arresting them.
The video then show Craig on the ground with the officer kneeling in her back, his Taser in his hand. He points the Taser at a young girl, and then also at Craig’s daughter, who scrambles away as the officer handcuffs Craig. He then goes and handcuffs Craig’s daughter, before taking them both to his SUV.
“This make her no longer feel safe because she was violated,” King said.
This could be the community’s best chance in its history to put a dent in years of racism, lack of opportunities, progress, and neglect in Fort Worth.
“Very few times in our lives do we witness such an outpouring of support from so many different people for a speaker as we did with Me. Shaun King. It was simply amazing,” says Rev. Kyev Tatum, a strategist for the #BlackOutFortWorth planning committee and President of the Fort Worth Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
Historically, Fort Worth was visibly absent from the civil rights movement of the 1960s that brought civil unrest, social changes and improvements in conditions for Black Americans in other parts of the country. During that time, there were no lunch counter sit-ins, no real marches for equality or big demonstrations in Fort Worth that led to confrontations with police, fire hoses, dogs and racist government officials.
In 2006, the pendulum swung closer a tittle as a new generation of Black leaders- powerful men and women were rattled over the then Omni Hotel International Development. DC Talks, Feb1- Feb 7, 2006, African American News & Issues
Many were growing up bold and strong enough to say enough is enough, but it had not matured to the level where it bore lasting fruit and thus it did not bring the kind of equality, fairness and respect the community yearns for today.
Now, Craig’s experience breaths new hope and real life into that pursuit and her story and the stories of others has awakened the community and are being shared daily with the world.
Millions are now listening and standing with her and the Fort Worth pastors and activists to the tune of millions online with as many as 400-plus joining the movement for justice and recently standing up at a Como Church to send a strong message the Fort Worth City Hall and the police department to demand substantive change.
The “Black Out” is asking for African-Americans and others to spend their money anywhere but downtown Fort Worth and is calling for churches and other groups to cancel meetings, conventions and conferences in the city until justice and equality prevails. It is a process that could affect the 8.8 million visitors to the city that hails itself as, “The Gateway to the West”.
Law enforcement, business leaders and police are in a quandary about how to control the spin on the story and stop the growing movement and unrest fallout that threatens the heart of the city’s economic heartbeat.
“There is so much injustice,” King said. “It not only a Fort Worth problem, it’s an American problem and people are frustrated. We must deal with these problems and issues we face today collectively and work together to solve them by first learning to be neighborly, respecting each other and getting along.”
According to Tatum, text step is for the group to begin a campaign to eliminate the Fort Worth Meet-and-Confer Agreement, which many believe is unfair to citizens and motivates a cultural of police brutality and the ‘protect at all cost’ mentality within the Fort Worth Police Officers Association.